false teachers

Satan’s Deep Secrets

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In the early days of the church Satan’s deep secrets came in the form of pagan idolatry, in later years he promoted his lies through the philosophical gnostic (knowledge) cults, but today they come better disguised.

In the last few posts I have picked up some points from the letters to the first three of the seven churches and in this article I will tie together three threads that appear in the letter to Thyatira. I have commented in previous posts on Jezebel, who is a focal interest in the letter, but now I want to bring together the ‘so called deep secrets’ she taught with Jesus’ injunction to ‘hold on to what you have until I return’, and his declaration that those who overcome will have ‘authority over the nations’.

truth-is-the-word-revelations-email-19-body-picDuring the twentieth century there have been many Christian and pseudo-Christian heresies who’s originators have claimed special, and often secret, revelation. In the last couple of decades we have seen the emergence of the ‘New Apostolic Reformation’ (NAR). Sometime in the future I will be writing extensively on this movement but for now I will need to describe it in, perhaps, oversimplified terms. The NAR, contrary to what its name suggests, is not really new at all. Much of its core theology comes from the Latter Rain movement of the 1950’s and 60’s. To this has been added Postmillennial Dominion theology (I will explain this shortly) and what is often referred to as Strategic Level Spiritual Warfare. (One definition of this is ‘praying against territorial spirits, seeking to “map” their strategies over given locations by discerning their names and what they use to keep people in bondage, and then binding them so that evangelism may go unhindered’).

Postmillennialism is one of the various end-time teachings and enjoyed some support before the World Wars. The core idea is that Christianity will become so dominant in human affairs that the world will experience a golden age of peace and prosperity (the millennium) at the end of which Jesus will come again to claim his now perfected bride, the church. The horror of two world wars demonstrated conclusively that human society was not getting progressively better and so postmillennialism quickly fell out of vogue. Now it’s back in a particularly aggressive form labeled Dominionism, a belief that Christ will rule the world through the church by gaining either direct or indirect control over education, government, business and so on. This is how NAR teachers would understand the application of Jesus’ words, “I will give authority over the nations” (Revelation 2:26).

Earthly dominion was never on Jesus’ agenda, the first disciples certainly did not see it as the church’s mandate, and it cannot reasonably be argued from an exhaustive study of scripture

Verses 26 and 27 of Revelation chapter two are complex and require far more analysis than I can give in a short article. These verses quote from Psalm 2 which is generally accepted as a messianic prophecy fulfilled in Christ Jesus. When Jesus began his public ministry the devil tempted him by offering him authority over all the kingdoms of the world, but he rejected this out of hand.. At the end of his public ministry Jesus was asked by Pilate if he indeed was an earthly king and his answer was, “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36). Earthly dominion was never on Jesus’ agenda, the first disciples certainly did not see it as the church’s mandate, and it cannot reasonably be argued from an exhaustive study of scripture.

When Jesus instructs his church to “hold onto what you have until I return’ he is commenting on what his disciples have been taught by the apostles as opposed to the teachings of Jezebel. In other words, “Stick with what I have taught you and do not get caught up with any so-called deep teachings”. If Jesus and his Apostles did not teach what NAR ‘apostles’ teach then what do they claim as their source of authority? Well, they claim to receive special ‘revelation knowledge’ and by this they usually mean that the Holy Spirit gives them special insight into the meaning of certain scriptures. How this occurs is often by way of allegorical interpretation of types, patterns, and isolated texts, usually drawn from the Old Testament. For instance, the army of locusts in Joel is understood as a type of the end-time church army that will gain dominion over the earth, and so on.

There is some room for responsible allegory because Paul used it on occasions (Galatians 4:21-24 1 Corinthians 10:4) and Jesus sometimes spoke allegorically (John 10), but a good rule for interpreting allegorically is to ensure that any ‘deeper’ meaning is consistent with the literal first intended meaning of the text. By this I mean that any additional meanings of a Bible passage must be consistent with the more obvious meaning of the text and not contradict or present something unrelated to its essential message.

Much of what we hear taught as ‘prophetic revelation’ is based on unfounded allegorical interpretations of Old Testament scriptures. These are not the deep things of Jesus, so we are left to wonder at their source and the validity of those who teach them.

In my next post I want to focus on the phrase ‘morning star’ that Jesus used at the end of his letter to the church in Thyatira, and I am sure you will find it ‘illuminating’.

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The Comet is coming

There are numerous sites on the internet containing ‘facts’ proving that something big is about to happen. A comet is set to strike the earth on 24th September, 2015! Blood moons confirm this and the Shmita year supports it. So batten down the hatches folk because we are in for a near extinction event…. not!

In my latest sermon I show how these predictions are biblically incorrect and logically flawed. If listened to before the end of September, 2015 the sermon should prove instructional… after that it will be more entertaining than anything else.

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Healing under the scalpel

I am painfully aware that as I take a surgical knife to the subject of healing I will be cutting into a number of sensibilities and run the risk of being carved up myself. Yes, healing is a gift of God, but it can also be a satanic present that carries bondage and distress under its colorful wrapping.

In the last few posts in the Revelation Revisited series I have been dealing with the seven letters to the churches. Last week I focused on pornography as one of the societal problems in the city of Pergamum. In this post I want to develop another aspect of that cities serpentine god Æscalapius’ influence both then and in our day. Strange as it may seem, healing was a gift that this pagan deity bestowed on its devotees. But healing is a good thing, a gift of God… isn’t it?

Although, regrettably, modern medical science claims as its heritage from Greek myth,  I regard it as part of God’s overall provision for us and I consult doctors and take antibiotics when they are needed to restore my health. I see divine healing as a more direct and immediate gift of grace. Medicine can heal and is seldom linked directly to God’s goodness and mercy, but divine healing, true divine healing, always points us back to God and evokes praise and gratefulness. If it were not for divine intervention in my life when I was a baby I certainly would not be here now writing this article. I believe in the present-day reality of divine healing both on biblical and experiential grounds.

But supernatural healing, or what appears as such, is not necessarily from or of God. The pagan priests of ancient Pergamum healed by operating in satanic power and their modern- day equivalents do the same.
truth-is-the-word-revelations-email-18-body-picAbout 20 years ago the Philippine Faith Healers  were in the spotlight and thousands flocked to them for healing. They were the product of Roman Catholicism and indigenous Voodoo and practiced a sort of ‘psychic surgery’. A person with a stomach problem would be laid on a table and the priest would run a dirty thumb nail down her belly. A scarlet incision would appear and the priest would seem to plunge his hand into the wound and then pluck out bloody material of some kind. He would then run his thumb back over the gash and the wound would disappear. The person was then pronounced healed.

Sleight of hand? Crude but effective showmanship? Most certainly, but I suspect that there was more going on than that and that some malign force was also at work. From the reports I have read it seems that the ‘patients’ almost all felt better immediately after the ‘surgery’ but the symptoms soon returned leaving the poor person, well…. poorer.

More recently, the Nigerian Prophet Joshua [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T._B._Joshua] has attained notoriety and once again Christians by their tens of thousands have been flocking to Lagos to be healed. I have watched hours of documentary video evidence and have had firsthand experience with a misguided member of my local church. I am convinced that something more than smoke-and-mirrors is involved. Certainly there is a lot of powerful psychological pressure and suggestion, but I discern more. There appears to be a spiritual power at work which, although manipulated in the name of Jesus, does not conform to anything I know of the Lord Jesus’ ways as revealed in the Bible.

Then there is the leg-stretching  so favored by itinerant and TV evangelists. Are we supposed to believe that so many physical ailments are caused by one leg being shorter than the other and that instant healing occurs when the offending limb is ‘grown out’ before the amazed eyes of the faithful? Pull the other leg, why don’t you!

Most of these ‘healing’ events stimulate a rush of adrenalin and a resultant feeling of well-being. But it doesn’t last and the sufferer ‘losses’ their healing. Say what?! When Jesus healed people they stayed healed irrespective of whether they continued to confess their healing and avoid all negative thoughts. When the disciples of the book of Acts healed someone there is never any mention of conditions and the possibility of losing the gift from God.

I don’t see any biblical warrant for psychic healing, leg-stretching, or losing a genuine healing gift from God. In my opinion these are a machinations of Æscalapius, not the ministry of the Holy Spirit.
I must stress again that I believe that divine healing is valid in our day as a ministry of the church of Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit and to the glory of God the Father. I see it in scripture, in the life of the Lord Jesus, in people I know, and in my own life. I urge Christians to believe in and be open to receiving divine healing and I counsel them as urgently to run from the false and manipulative ministries of the serpent, no matter how ‘Christian’ they are presented as being.

In my next post I am moving on to uncover some of the spiritual wealth contained in the letter to the church in Thyatira… can’t wait!

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More about Old Nic

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The notorious Nicolaitins of Ephesus and Pergumum are worth a second look. In my last post I mentioned that their name is probably derived from the Greek words for ‘rule over or by’ and ‘the people’. I identified this group as a class of false Apostles in the early church that attempted to rule over the people and lead them into heretical doctrine and licentious practices. In this post I want to use the word ‘Nicolaitan’ to develop another leadership problem in the church of our day.

Rule over the people

truth-is-the-word-revelations-email-14-body-pic2Autocratic leadership structures are all too common in the church of our day. Many of the major church denominations have adopted a hierarchical form of church government where Bishops preside over Ministers/Priests who in turn rule local churches. In the Pentecostal and independent churches, Apostles replace Bishops, and Pastors replace Priests, but the system is essentially the same. In all its variations this type of church government represents a form of ‘rule over the people’. A typical independent charismatic church form of government is a Pastor, or pastoral couple, assisted by a group of Elders, a finance committee and a group of leaders, sometimes referred to as Deacons. The Pastor appoints the Elders and often replaces them on a regular basis. He is the ‘anointed and appointed of God’ and he effectively rules over the people. The committees provide advice and the Elders act as counsellors, but the person in charge is the Pastor.

Pastoral elders are both biblical and very necessary and feature in Paul’s letters, however I have always understood the word ‘pastor’ as a description of ministry and not a title or position. I also believe that church government should be by a group of elders led by a Lead Elder. Countless church ills, splits, and dysfunctions have occurred because of one-man-rule-over-the-people. In addition, when a single Pastor rules a local church then accountability and support, if provided at all, is usually represented by a person higher in a chain of command. Armies may be organised in this manner, but churches are not armies and nor are they one-man businesses.

Rule by the people

truth-is-the-word-revelations-email-14-body-picOn the opposite end of the spectrum are those churches governed by the democratic vote of its members. In the top-down system the members count for very little but in the bottom-up system they count for everything. I don’t believe that this system is much better than the hierarchical systems, yet most churches that do not have a hierarchical system of government have a democratic system. Whereas in hierarchical systems the Pastors are essentially the proprietors, in the democratic system they are usually just hirelings.

I live in one of the newer democracies on earth, South Africa, and I have to say that in practice this ‘democracy’ is simply a form of rule by mass numbers. This will be the case in any group of people where one type/persuasion/race/gender hold an overwhelming majority. I don’t think the church is much different from any other society in this regard. In the natural world bodies are not designed or equipped to rule the head and in the body of Christ the same applies. But if so-called democracy is not the answer, and hierarchical autocracy isn’t either, then what is a better form of church government?

Rule by plurality of Elders

I believe that church government should be in the hands of a group of elders led by a Lead Elder where major decisions are taken by a genuine consensus. New Elders should be nominated by existing Elders but members should have some form of veto power by voting in General Meeting for the appointment of a new Elder. The effective headship of Jesus Christ is exercised through the true consensus of a group of specially called men who are accountable to Him but also to the church membership. Paul’s words to the group of Ephesian Elders captures the essence of this form of church government: ‘Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood’ (Acts 20:28-29).

No system of church government is perfect and traces of all three systems can be found in scripture, yet I believe that a plurality of Elders has the greatest New Testament support and is least likely to become ‘nicolaitan’.

In my next post I will leave old ‘nic’ behind and move on to other important lessons from the seven letters to the churches of Revelation.

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More about Old Nic Read More »

The Dawkins Delusion

 

The word ‘new’ is being attached to many philosophies and movements nowadays. One of the newest News is a militant form of atheism promoted by people such as Richard Dawkins.

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I have written this short article to provide some background reading into one of the better known books coming out of the New Atheist camp; ‘The God Delusion’ by Richard Dawkins.

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I am not an apologist; and I make no apology for this. An apologist is a person who offers an argument in defence of something, and in theological circles that ‘something’ is the Christian Faith. I do not believe that God needs defending: the very idea is as absurd as an ant attempting to justify to another insect that Richard Dawkins exists (comparison intended). And that brings me to the subject of this post.

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A short while ago I chanced upon a televised interview of Professor Dawkins. I knew of him but hadn’t taken time to read his books, so I stayed tuned and listened for a while. A number of things struck me but I have already mentioned these in a sermon I preached that same week, so I will only cite two here – his very narrow world-view and his obvious contempt for those who include a spiritual dimension to their concept of reality.

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The Dawkins world-view has no room for anything beyond what can be scientifically observed and quantified. I, on the other hand, believe in a spiritual realm on a number of grounds. I have experienced it, it makes sense to me, the bible describes it, and Jesus spoke much about it. Of course folk like Dawkins regard the bible as a collection of ancient myths and theologians as benighted souls who peddle these myths. This is what he says; ‘I have listened to theologians, read them, debated against them. I have never heard any of them ever say anything of the smallest use, anything that was not either platitudinously obvious or downright false’. He has indeed debated with some church men but seems to carefully avoid those who could easily refute his views. Dr William Lane Craig is a highly trained and articulate theologian who has repeatedly, but unsuccessfully, attempted to engage Dawkins. In his justification, ‘Why I refuse to debate with William Lane Craig’ Dawkins writes; ‘Don’t feel embarrassed if you’ve never heard of William Lane Craig. He parades himself as a philosopher, but none of the professors of philosophy whom I consulted had heard his name either. Perhaps he is a “theologian”’. Note particularly the dismissive use of inverted commas.

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For interest I looked up the Wikipedia entries for both Dawkins and Lane Craig. The article on Dawkins contains a mere 6 lines describing his education. Lane Craig on the other hand… well see for yourself – I know whose CV impresses me the most: No wonder Dawkins does not want to debate him!

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Here is Lane Craig’s evaluation of Dawkins’ logical argument – as they say in my part of the world, “Ag shame”. By the way, I borrowed the title of this post from this particular article although I doubt if Lane Craig is the only one to use the catchy description of Dawkins Think.

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As one of the despised theologian class I of course heartily agree with Lane Craig, but I chose rather to consult some non-Christian critics in order to get a non-spiritual view of the Dawkins Delusion. Robert Stewart, writing in the Journal of Evolutionary Philosophy, produced a detailed summary and review of Dawkins’ book ‘The God Delusion’. In this paper Stewart points out that Dawkins claims that he can prove that the probability of God’s existence is almost zero. He goes on to mention that Dawkins based the entire credibility of his book on his ‘proof’ of God’s non-existence, but that the only proof that he delivered was a rhetorical hypothesis… Again, “Ag shame”.

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I went one step further and downloaded a Kindle book titled ‘Illogical Atheism’ by a doctor of Laws writing under the name of Bo Jinn. The book’s title speaks for itself but just to clarify one reviewer wrote; ‘In his book Illogical Atheism, Bo Jinn incisively lays down the failure of atheism to provide a grounding for reason’.

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I can’t do better to end this short article than by quoting Lane Craig’s conclusion to one of his articles on the same subject ‘Several years ago my atheist colleague Quentin Smith unceremoniously crowned Stephen Hawking’s argument against God in A Brief History of Time as “the worst atheistic argument in the history of Western thought.” With the advent of The God Delusion the time has come, I think, to relieve Hawking of this weighty crown and to recognize Richard Dawkins’ accession to the throne’.

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About Me

My name is Christopher Peppler and I was born in Cape Town, South Africa in 1947. While working in the financial sector I achieved a number of business qualifications from the Institute of Bankers, Damelin Management School, and The University of the Witwatersrand Business School. After over 20 years as a banker, I followed God’s calling and joined the ministry full time. After becoming a pastor of what is now a quite considerable church, I  earned an undergraduate theological qualification from the Baptist Theological College of Southern Africa and post-graduate degrees from two United States institutions. I was also awarded the Doctor of Theology in Systematic Theology from the University of Zululand in 2000.

Four years before that I established the South African Theological Seminary (SATS), which today is represented in over 70 countries and has more than 2 500 active students enrolled with it. I presently play an role supervising Masters and Doctoral students.

I am a passionate champion of the Christocentric or Christ-centred Principle, an approach to biblical interpretation and theological construction that emphasises the centrality of Jesus

I have been happily married to Patricia since the age of 20, have two children, Lance and Karen, a daughter-in-law Tracey, and granddaughters Jessica and Kirsten. I have now retired from both church and seminary leadership and devote my time to writing, discipling, and the classical guitar.

If you would like to read my testimony to Jesus then click HERE.